Almost three years after he fatally stabbed the mother of his then-5-year-old child at the Seattle Center food court, killer David Lee Morris was sentenced to 38 years in prison, and the intervention by a legally-armed private citizen helped bring him to justice.
As reported by KING at the time, the local NBC affiliate, “The suspect ran outside but was stopped by a witness with a gun. The armed bystander followed the stabbing suspect until police arrived.”
The confrontation was captured on a cellphone video by another witness, identified as Eric DeAngelo. It was broadcast on a couple of local stations during news broadcasts on the day it happened in November 2018. The armed citizen didn’t fire a shot, though under the state’s use-of-force statutes, he could have.
Likewise, KIRO—the CBS affiliate in Seattle—reported, “A cellphone video showed a good Samaritan holding Morris at gunpoint after the stabbing. Another person pepper-sprayed him. Shortly after, Seattle police arrived on the scene, used a Taser on him and took him down.”
At the time this incident unfolded, there were 605,216 active concealed pistol licenses in the state, according to archived data from the state Department of Licensing. In King County, where Seattle is located, there were 99,186 active CPLs in November 2018. The “good guy with a gun” had one of them.
The murder of Gabrielle Garcia was one of 32 murders logged that year in Seattle, according to historical data from the police department.
Armed intervention by private citizens is not a new concept, especially in Washington State, where Article 1, Section 24 of the State Constitution guarantees “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired.” It doesn’t often make the news, but when it does, the situation is typically dramatic, but not often captured on video by a bystander.
Morris was convicted of first-degree murder last May, which may seem like a long time between arrest and trial, considering the circumstances. The fatal stabbing occurred in front of several witnesses, including the child Morris shared with Garcia.
At the time, Garcia had been granted a protection order only days prior to her death. The slaying underscores the fact that pieces of paper don’t prevent bad things from happening if someone is determined to cause harm.
While one could speculate about what might have occurred in the aftermath of the stabbing—the Seattle Center was full of people that afternoon despite it being a typical drab November day—the presence of an armed citizen makes that unnecessary. Seattle police arrived within a few minutes and, after using a taser on Morris, took him into custody.
If Morris survives the prison sentence, he will be a very old man upon his release. He could have just as easily not survived the day he killed Garcia.